East Lyme Hires Consultant to Help Solve Drinking Water Issues

EAST LYME — The town’s department of public works has contracted Tighe & Bond, an engineering and environmental consulting company, to investigate issues with taste and odor in the East Lyme water supply.

Brad Kargl, the town’s utility engineer, said that East Lyme has conducted a number of tests in an effort to get to the bottom of a musty odor evident in the water supply for the southern portion of the town. After receiving about 20 complaints about the odor about 8 months ago – enough to raise concern for Kargl – the town began testing its source water and its distribution system for the source of the problem.

According to Kargl, the testing shows that the town’s water supply still complies with drinking water standards, but that testing above and beyond those standards has not yet turned up a cause for the problem.

“Everything is normal and well within drinking water standards, but again, aesthetically, you get a musty kind of odor and taste, which is bothersome,” Kargl said. “So we’ve got to try to address it to see if we can improve that.”

After exhausting the town’s capabilities to address the problem, Kargl said the town was bringing in another set of eyes on the problem. Tighe & Bond was responsible for developing the town’s hydraulic model and has kept it updated, so the company is in a better position than other firms to complete the work, Kargl told the East Lyme Water and Sewer Commission on Tuesday night.

He said Public Works will pay $14,000 for the study out of its operational budget.

Kargl said Tighe & Bond can use the modeling of the town distribution system and possibly find a hydraulic reason for the taste and odor problems. They may be able to identify a different flushing strategy the town could use, or identify problematic water mains, he said.

Kargl said the taste and odor issue is unrelated to other complaints with the town water supply, including discoloration and sedimentation. 

Sedimentation is caused by collection of minerals that naturally exist in the water supply, like iron and manganese. Addressing that, is a matter of routinely flushing the water lines, he said. 

Kargl  said the separate $5.59 million filtration project on two town wells should be completed in April, which could address some of the discoloration issues by filtering out more of those minerals at the source

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